It sounds so formal, so sacred a bit rigid and part rock band-ish. Sabbath has always sounded so challenging to me and raised questions like:
What EXACTLY am I supposed to do on this day of rest? Do I just relax? Hang out?
Is Sabbath on Sunday? Is it on Saturday? What if I can't rest on those days?
What's allowed? What's not allowed?
Why do some Christians observe it while others don't?
Here's where this thing I have for theology has led me.
Sabbath is derived from a Hebrew word which means to cease (from work) or to rest.
Most of us are familiar with the account of creation found in Genesis. You know, the one that took six days and then on the seventh day God rested.
So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation. (Genesis 2:2-3 New Living Translation)
A rhythm to creation. Six days on and one day when it stops.
God feels pretty strongly about this resting concept because it becomes a commandment. One of the 10 that is given to the Israelites.
“Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy. (Exodus 20:8-11 NLT)
I understand dedicating a day of rest to God. I don't have any servants or livestock or foreigners living with me. What exactly does this mean for me today?
To understand what it means today I did a little deeper dive as to what it meant for the Hebrews that were in the wilderness and were the first to receive this commandment.
Prior to this the Hebrews had been slaves in Egypt. Slaves whose job was to make bricks day in and day out. Every day. Their worth as a slave was in direct correlation to how many bricks they produced and here they are, in the middle of a desert being commanded to rest. The idea of churning out a product, good or service being tied to our individual worth is a story I recognize and can relate to.
Here's what that looks like for me; planning Monday morning when I leave the office on Friday afternoon. Battling the urge to check emails throughout the weekend...get the picture?
Have you ever been so consumed with what you need to accomplish at work that even when you're not at work you're still working? You're thinking about it, making plans, having conversations with co-workers in your head.
We leave the office but we rarely ever actually leave work.
God commands the Hebrews to take this day of rest as a reminder that they are no longer slaves. It's set aside as a day when they can "be" and not "do."
JESUS & THE SABBATH
I did a quick biblical scan of some of the things Jesus did on the Sabbath.
Heals. Teaches. Challenges systemic thinking. Confronts. Performs miracles. Dines with those who oppose him. RESURRECTS!
It got me thinking, Am I creating space for these things to happen in my own life? Do I make time to reflect, feel, to challenge my own way of thinking, to be restored?
Are these the things that happen on the Sabbath?
CREATING A PERSONALIZED SABBATH
What I have discovered is that Sabbath is essentially about making one day different from the others. That's it in a nutshell. It's about taking a break from the routine we've fallen into as part of our work.
Here's how to create your personal Sabbath.
- Make a list of everything that makes up your day to day routine. For example, my days typically start out with reading something that I find inspiring, waking my daughter up, getting her to school, commuting to the office, emails, meetings...you get the picture. Now create your own list and move on to step 2.
- Pick a day and don't do anything on this list. This is the opposite of a to-do list. You've just created a not-to-do list. You've just created the foundation for your Sabbath. Obviously you want to take care of the people that depend on you on a day to day basis. None of us are going to stop feeding our kids one day a week and say we're observing the Sabbath. The big things, your modern day brick building, these are the things you'll take a break from.
It's much easier said than done. The significant drop in stimuli alone can be enough to make us move back into our routine. Push through the discomfort and soon you will find that by creating your Sabbath you will relate to all time differently.
May your days be filled with compassion, your faith remain strong and may growth be your compass.
Reference material used for this blog. How to Be Here Rob Bell Google Etymology Photo Cred: Melvin Meade